When we started the studios in 1979, it was as a musicians collective, in response to the fact that there was nowhere to rehearse in and around The Mill Hill area. We were all at school, didn’t have cars etc, so having somewhere we could rent and leave our gear was a major benefit. When we first started, the gear was owned by three bands, who all agreed to leave it at the studios to share. We didn’t have a proper PA system to start with and the drum kit was constantly falling to bits. Often rehearsals would end early when a string, drumstick or drum head broke. I recall one rehearsal just before an important gig when our vocalist knocked over the mic stand and the mic broke. It meant that we couldn’t rehearse properly for the gig. Our first rehearsal room was a derelict caretakers cottage, the plaster was falling off the walls and we hung up a few old curtains to deaden the room a bit. It was a great time and a part of the journey, but in truth it wasn’t productive and we spent more time chatting than playing, as there was no great incentive to get on with it.
As the studio evolved, we started to stockpile spare equipment. We realised that if a reharsal went wrong because of equipment failure, before a key gig, it meant that we couldn’t do our job properly, so we set our studios up to be as robust and resilient as possible. On Saturday night, our band got booked for a local club. The band who supported us were also studio customers. They made a passing comment that since they’d started using the studios, they’d found rehearsals had become more productive and also other unexpected doors had opened. They had previously been ‘jamming in a mate’s garage until the noise complaints became too much of a problem’. This conversation got me thinking about the benefits of using a professionally run rehearsal space, as opposed to a mates garage or front room.
- There will be no noise complaints from the neighbours, just as you are getting going
- You don’t need to lug all of your gear there or worry about gear failure, as they will have a PA system and backline available
- If you break a string, drumstick or lose your plectrum, you can get another one ( all decent studios should have such items available).
- Rooms should have some sort of acoustic treatment, so that you can get a good sound (at Mill Hill Music Complex, we deliberately have rooms that sound different to each other as different customers have different requirements).
- Good studios should have spare equipment, so if something breaks down, it can be swapped out, so the impact on you is minimal.
- Good studios have a noticeboard, so if a member quits, you can find/advertise for a replacement.
- Good studios have cafe/reception areas that allow musicians to network and exchange information.
- When you pay for a studio, it shows commitment to the project. When you are paying, you get down to work and make the time productive.
- A good studio can offer help and advice on the local music scene, gigs and places to avoid.
- Good studios have history, when you use them, you become part of the story. Our customers know they are using studios that Amy Winehouse, Tom Jones, Flo, The Damned and The Buzzcocks have used. Your mates will be mightily impressed.
If you use a good studio, you will be productive almost from the moment you walk in the door, until the moment you walk out. Equipment will work, you’ll be able to hear each other and you will feel inspired by being in part of the story!